I’ve been locked up for 3 weeks now.
I stay out of trouble for the most part. I’m always respectful to the detention officers. They’re respectful back.
I spend my time doing, well, nothing.
There’s nothing to do in hell.
I’m either lying on my bunk thinking, sitting somewhere thinking, or walking laps around the pod thinking. I can’t escape my tormenting thoughts.
I’m continually consumed in anxiety, stress, worry, fear, shock, panic, sadness, loneliness and confusion.
I feel completely cut off from God. I feel so totally forsaken.
Although I feel this way, I’m constantly fighting back against these dark, destructive, and demonic thoughts and feelings. I don’t always win. Sometimes I sink into the darkness, but I never stay there. I start fighting back again before too long.
I pray constantly.
Out of the blue one afternoon, my cell and bunk number is called over the intercom. That means I need to report to the guard’s station.
The guards inform me someone is here to see me. They have documents I need to sign. An officer cuffs and escorts me to a highly monitored room. I think the worst at this point; it’s divorce papers. Whatever it is, it can’t be good.
The usual happens; my heart sinks. I’m timid and afraid of what I’m about to find out.
When I arrive, the gentleman introduces himself as a courier. We sit down at a table. He reaches in his satchel and pulls out a few pieces of paper. I recognize what it is as soon as I see them.
It’s a Quick Claim Deed for my house. The deed is all filled out with the new owner’s name already written in. It’s the name of one of the investors in my company. He is also a long time mentor and friend. He has an equity stake in my house.
I’m asked to sign the docs by the courier. I look them over. I take his pen and sign the paperwork. I sign over my house.
I don’t ask a lot of questions. The ones I do ask, the courier has no answer. I figure what’s going on. He’s taking over my house to sell it so he doesn’t lose the money from his equity stake.
I am cuffed and escorted back. I no longer own my home. That’s all I know. I don’t know if Amy is still living there or what else is happening.
Wondering and guessing is its own special kind of mental torture.
Regardless, there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I have lost control over my entire life. All decisions are being made for me by other people.
All I can do is sit behind bars in this dark underworld and feel myself losing everything I hold dear in the land of the living.
That’s hell! There’s no other way to describe it.
Each day the guards tape to our pod window the scheduled video calls for the day. There are phones with screens on them in our pod, like the one below.
Every day I look, and every day my name isn’t there.
Then, about 3 weeks in, it shows up. I have a scheduled video call with one of my friends, Aaron Cotton. The calls only last 15 minutes. As soon as your time is up, you’re just cut off.
There’s so much I want to know!
The call begins. It’s incredibly comforting to finally see and talk to someone I know. As much as I want good news though, he can’t give it to me. He’s been to see Amy. He tells me she’s angry and things don’t look good at the moment. He says I’m going to need a lot of patience and that if I am ever back with her, it’s going to take a lot longer than I want to wait.
He tells me that she is packing up the whole house and is preparing to move. He doesn’t know when or where.
I ask him why no one will bail me out. It’s only $500. He doesn’t know, and he doesn’t have the money.
Right before the call ends, Aaron tells me to ENDURE! It’s impossible for him to know what he’s advising me to endure, but it sticks. I ask him to please have other’s schedule calls with me.
After its over, I’m left with more questions than answers. The answers I do have seem to confirm my fears. Overall, I feel worse afterward. Not because of anything Aaron does or says. I just realize that right now I can’t bear the truth.
The next several days I look and my name isn’t on the list for scheduled calls.
It’s a particularly distressing day. I try calling my sister Jennifer. I almost fall over when she actually answers! It’s like every muscle in my body just relaxes. I finally have a member of my family to talk to. She had meant to put some money on my books for food, but she instead accidentally paid for phone time. This “accident” is a major tender mercy. She is like an angel to me. I can’t express how much she saves whatever sanity I had left.
We get 15 minutes per call. As soon as one call is cut off, I call her right back. There are times when I must call her 10 times in a row. She always answers. She’ll never really know how much my soul needed that…needed someone to simply answer when I called. It provides me an incredible amount of relief.
Jennifer’s simple, direct faith and unruffled disposition calms my troubled nerves.
At the same time, the tiniest drop of additional bad news sends me into freak out mode.
And, no matter how much Jennifer is there for me, there’s one thing she can’t do. She can’t give me good news.
She flies out to Arizona to help Amy. One day a car is pulling up to my house. As it does, Jennifer tells me my 3-year-old son, with his baseball helmet on backward and glove on his hand, went running out to the car yelling, “Daddy, daddy…” He thought it was me coming home to play catch with him. Jennifer bursts into tears. When she tells me this story, my heart breaks in pieces. I can’t imagine what must be going through the little guys head.
I wear Jennifer out! It’s exhausting talking / listening to me. I’m a nervous wreck, still withdrawing, and my nerves are shot. Out of pain and frustration, I hang up on her a couple of times. Still, when I call her back, she answers.
My sister never gives up on me. She never stops believing in me, even when everyone else around her does. It’s exactly what my soul needs. The entire time, I’ve been craving for someone to believe in me, to believe in the good in me. That one person is Jennifer. She stays right by my side every step of the way from here on out. It’s an example of charity, kindness, love and long-suffering that will forever remain with me.
Although time slows down in this underworld, it still passes, and the day arrives for my next court date.
It’s the night before that day. I’m told I’ll be given some time with my public defender before I see the judge. Nobody can imagine a scenerio where I don’t get released.
I’ve been in jail for 30 days. It might as well have been 30 years. I can’t imagine being back in the land of the living. I’ve already become accustomed to being locked up, chained up, and cuffed. I don’t remember what it is like being free.
I’m nervous this time, like last time, but in my mind, I’ve done it. It’s over. I can’t imagine any judge denying my release at this point.
I don’t sleep. It’s about 4am. A detention officer walks by my cell and shines his flash light in my face and tells me to get up. It’s the beginning of a long, dreadful day of waiting. I go through the same old routine as last time.
I’m sitting in the same old cell as always waiting for my name to be called. I’m dressed in my striped jail uniform. Exactly like the ones below.
My name is called. An officer cuffs my hands and puts ankle chains on me. He takes me into the same little room with the sliding window as last time. This time though a different face shows up.
It’s a smiling face. She slides open the window and pleasantly introduces herself. She’s my public defender. She is kind and positive. I perk right up. She tells me there are several people, including my wife, sitting in the courtroom supporting me. Somewhere during our conversation, she asks if I want to relay a message to my wife.
Seriously? I can do that?
“Yes,” she says.
She tears off a piece of paper and tells me to write my message down and she’ll give it to her. I do. I can’t remember all that I write, but my public defender thinks its perfect. We briefly discuss what’s she’s going to do to get me released. She leaves to go talk about a deal with the prosecutor and give my wife the note. She tells me to wait and she’ll be right back.
She never comes back. I wait in that chair for at least 30 minutes.
Finally, an officer comes and gets me. I ask him where my public defender is and he doesn’t know. He just says it’s time for me to see the judge.
Now, I’m nervous. Why didn’t my public defender ever come back?
The officer escorts me down a long hallway to a flight of stairs. We walk up the stairs and down another hallway. Then he opens a door and motions for me to enter. I turn the corner, lift my head up, and when I do, I’m looking directly at my wife who is seated in the courtroom. My sister’s Jennifer and Jill, and my daughter’s Amalie, and Kelsie are also there. All their faces are expressionless.
I wonder what my daughters must be thinking and feeling seeing their dad in jailhouse stripes, cuffs, and ankle chains. I can’t help but think how traumatic it must be for them.
I’m seated and wait my turn. My name is called by the judge. My public defender finally shows up. She argues that I should be released immediately.
The judges only response is, “Has the defendant undergone a “seriously mentally ill” examination.
I am once again fully mystified at what I’m actually hearing. What did he just ask? Seriously mentally ill test?
My body tenses. I don’t like where this is going.
He’s informed that I haven’t.
Without any further hesitation, he denies my release.
He states that the prosecution has requested I have one. He then orders that I have it done, and he’ll decide what to do once he gets the results.
I officially enter the twilight zone. My system has now been seriously mentally SHOCKED so many times, the psychological damage of it all feels permanent. My entire nervous system is fried!
This is the first I’ve heard anything about some stupid examination.
It doesn’t matter. The judge sets another court date for 2 1/2 weeks away. During that time, I’m to be evaluated to determine whether or not I’m “seriously mentally ill.” I’m going back to jail.
My muscles tense. My blood boils. I’m enraged.
What do I do? What I always do these days. I open my mouth and begin to give the judge a piece of my mind. Luckily, my public defender quickly silences me. The judge never looks me in the eyes. I’m escorted out.
It won’t be the last time this judge denies my release!